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Hornets falter in the second half, lose 119-93 to the Celtics

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The Hornets held tough for most of the game until Jayson Tatum went nuclear in the fourth quarter.

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

For the second night in a row, the Hornets faded down the stretch against a superior opponent and fell 119-93 to the Celtics behind a 23-point 10-assist double-double from Devonte’ Graham and 18 points (8-11 FG) from Bismack Biyombo.

Terry Rozier started off his return to the TD Garden by promptly getting stuffed by Daniel Theis on a layup on the Hornets’ first possession. He started off 0-3 from the field before he got his first bucket, presumably because he had to sweat out the hangover. Miles Bridges was uncharacteristically aggressive in the opening period and it resulted with 10 points on a perfect 4-4 from the floor. I do not know where the Celtics get their scouting reports, but they repeatedly went under the screens when Devonte’ would run the PnR and give up a wide open three. Those are his bread and butter and it culminated in 17 points on 5-6 from beyond the arc. The Hornets as a team were 7-10 and lead 37-30 at the end of one.

The offense machine broke at the start of the second quarter. Cody Martin got the Hornets’ first points at the line after an aggressive drive to the rim in transition, but it took until the 10:13 mark for that to happen. At the 8:47 mark the Hornets led 43-37, and to that point, Devonte’ had scored or assisted on every single Hornets field goal. He is good, to put it lightly. The game was sort of back-and-forth through the middle of the quarter until the Hornets decided to give Enes Kanter whatever he wanted on the glass and the Celtics cut the deficit to 47-45 with 5:37 to go. The Hornets offense cooled off considerably in this quarter, scoring just 19 points compared to 37 in the first frame. Kemba Walker hit a three, and then Miles committed a foul that gave Boston a 59-56 lead heading into the half. Devonte’ had a game-high 19 points and eight assists and Miles held steady at 10 points.

Terry got the second half going with a floater before Boston went on a 13-5 run to open the quarter and give themselves a 72-62 lead. The Hornets came back with a quick 6-0 run that cut the lead to 72-68 with 6:28 left in the quarter after Boston put them in the bonus after just three and a half minutes. Bismack Biyombo had a nice quarter, finishing a few nice layups inside off of some tricky passes from Miles and Devonte’. It was 80-73 Boston with 3:23 left when Devonte’ bumped knees with Kanter and limped off of the floor. For a moment, life had fleeting purpose and I thought the holiday season was ruined, but the Hornets PR Twitter account quickly reassured us that he was available to return to the game with a quad contusion. The Hornets went 1-9 from three-point land in the third and trailed 93-81 going into the final frame.

Devonte’ got back in at the beginning of the fourth quarter, allowing us all to breathe a collective sigh of relief. That was about the only good thing that happened in the fourth, though, as Boston went on an 11-1 run to put themselves up double-digits with 8:52 to go. Jayson Tatum scored 22 points for Boston in the quarter, essentially putting the game away on his own. He finished with a career-high 39 points. The defense was nowhere to be found and the Hornets looked pretty gassed towards the end of the game, which is understandable during the second night of a back-to-back after a three-hour flight. Both coaches emptied their benches with about four minutes to go (meaning we got some Tacko Time) and the game ended with a final score of 119-93.

Some will say both last night and tonight were “winnable games” against good teams and use it to bolster the argument that the Hornets are just a piece or two away from contending, but I tend to err more towards the better opponent just playing down to the Hornets’ level before deciding to blow their doors off at some point in the second half. If they were truly a competitive team, they’d be able to hang with them and lose a close one rather than losing by 26. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but we gotta stay realistic here. I refuse to let any Hornets fan’s mind go astray. This game was still good; they played hard while preserving their draft pick. We still need those.

It was sad that Terry scored 14 points on 17 shots in his triumphant return to Boston, but like I said in the preview, it’s hard to perform at a high level after a night at the club. You take what you can get. The Hornets have their first break of over two days of the entire season and don’t play again until Oklahoma City comes to town on Friday.

Let’s enjoy our first break in the schedule, we know the team will be. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all Hornets fans, from your good pals At the Hive!